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Tips on Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Tips on Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Employees in California have the right to a safe, respectful workplace. You, your coworkers and your employer need to maintain a working environment that is free from harassment. Unfortunately, some employers do not uphold these basic provisions and fail to address discrimination and harassment happening in the office. 

If you believe that you’ve been subject to workplace sexual harassment, you can seek damages under California law. However, reporting sexual harassment isn’t easy, and victims don’t always come forward due to a fear of retaliation. Your experiences deserve to be heard and compensated for. Consider these tips for reporting the incident, and discuss your specific case with our attorney. 

How to Identify Workplace Sexual Harassment

Employees can sue for workplace harassment. First, you must identify the harassing behavior, and then you must report it. Sexual harassment does not need to be motivated by sexual desire or be sexual in the literal sense. California law includes gender-based discrimination that is verbal, physical or visual and creates a hostile or offensive workplace. Unlawful harassment also includes any hostile conduct that is done based on your actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Even if the harassment you experienced doesn’t appear the same as scenarios you’ve seen in the media or heard about from other employees, you should report the harassment. In California, the totality of the circumstances determines whether a work environment is found to be hostile. 

Notifying Your Employer of Workplace Harassment

Coming forward regarding your experience with sexual harassment can be understandably intimidating. However, to protect your rights, you must report hostile behavior to your employer’s Human Resources Department or a supervisor to ensure they are aware of the situation. Your employer can be held liable if there was a reasonable expectation that they knew or should have known about the behavior and failed to properly address it. If your employer was not aware of the harassment, you could still pursue action against the harassing employee to hold them liable. 

The company should have policies for reporting and looking into harassment allegations. You should be aware of this policy, so you know whether your employer has taken the necessary action regarding your claims. 

Reporting Harassment to the Government

Once your employer is aware of the harassment, you need to file a complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). You can submit your complaint by mail or over the phone. Include the following information to ensure that DFEH investigates your complaint: 

  • Detailed facts and records about the incident
  • The harasser’s name and contact information
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses

An experienced workplace harassment lawyer can assist you in filing your complaint. Jeannette A. Vaccaro can ensure that your file contains all necessary information and that you are prepared for the next steps. 

Discuss Your Case With an Attorney

Filing a sexual harassment complaint can be challenging. Your first step should be to contact a San Francisco employment attorney who can explain the process and ensure you know what to expect. Call the Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro for a consultation.

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